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The Music In My Blood: Carrying the legacy forward

The Music In My Blood started with Shubhra’s study of Indian classical music with her guru Sandip Bhattacharjee.

Shubhra Prakash

“As a theatre-maker, I wanted to bring the story of this music to the stage. While on this journey I also learned of Walter Kaufmann, a Jewish refugee who came to India during the Holocaust and ended up giving India its iconic All India Radio theme music. He did much more, codified many ragas and folk songs into western music notation. Walter becomes the lens with which we explore the majestic world of Indian classical music.” says Shubhra Prakash, producer of the play “The Music in My Blood”.

“The Music In My Blood,” an original play presented by Hypokrit Theatre Company and Satwik Arts just finished its successful run at the acclaimed American Theatre of Actors in the theatre district, midtown Manhattan. The Music in My Blood enjoyed invited performances part of Natya Darpan Festival at the Middlesex County College Auditorium and Natya Bharti in Rockville, Maryland.

The Music in My Blood features a multicultural cast that explores a story that traverses the lives of a South Asian family carrying forward musical legacy.

Under the design and direction of Sonalee Hardikar, the play exhibits a musical household in the holy city of Benares India in the 1960s, to Brooklyn in 1980s.  The Music In My Blood explores a world of classical music using drama. Crossing the boundaries of time and space, brought together are Prema and Walter, two people bound and frayed by their love of music.

Fleeing the demands of legacy from being an Indian classical singer, from a musical dynasty in Benares, Prema chooses to pursue a history degree in New York City. She discovers the writing of Walter Kauffman, a Jewish man who developed a devotion to Indian music. Kauffman gave India the iconic “All India Radio” tune when he found refuge in India during World War-II. The play is inspired by the true story of Walter Kaufmann, his journey to India, falling in love with the music of the land and tireless efforts to make it accessible to western audiences. He acknowledged that initially, he found the music “alien and incomprehensible” but decided to put in the effort to engage and understand over unexamined rejection.

He composed the iconic theme music for All India Radio – based on raga Shivaranjini -that still resonates with Indians of all stripes. He made seminal contributions to making Indian classical music accessible to the west through his prolific writing and codifying music so it could be played as sheet music. His intellectual curiosity and humility left a lasting legacy and an inspiring message of inclusion that is especially relevant today.

The play has live Indian music throughout and explores a parallel theme of feminism, loyalty & fealty to ‘gharana’, the tension between art and commerce, the instinct to preserve tradition yet evolve to keep pace with soaring aspirations and changing values – through the lens of three generations of strong women who seek fulfillment through music in their own unique way.

Sonalee Hardikar

Sonalee Hardikar, Director of the play says, “Seven Notes, to describe the universe, seven characters that populate the world of the play… Due to their talent, or their lineage, or their lust for knowledge, each one in his or her way is pitted against the enormous corpus that is the INDIAN musical tradition. Some imbibe from it naturally like a parched being, drinking from an eternal well spring, some shirk it like a cup of poison, some by the sheer trick of circumstance are given a glimpse of its divinity, and can never go back. Each one while responding to its vastness, its timelessness, gets transformed in unpredictable ways. Like an extra rim that gets added to the tree with each passing epoch, all leave  indelible marks on the corpus itself, marks of their own styles, their struggles to imbibe, interpret and be transformed by the magic that we know as Hindustani Classical Music.”

The Music in My Blood

Written by: Sonalee Hardikar, Shubhra Prakash

Directed by: Sonalee Hardikar

Music: Laxmikant Bongale

Cast: Monica Sharma & Ariaki Dandawate as Prema • Michael Gentile & Toby Miller as Walter Kaufmann • Aanya Rastogi as Little Prema • Richa Rudola & Shubhra Prakash as Archana • Ashok Chaudhry & Gautam Gurnani as Vikram • Sumend Wankhade & Anand Rao as Kamal • Meera Narasimhan as Maa • Manoj Govindraj, male singer and harmonium • Rucha Jambhekar, female singer • Amod Dandawate on tabla


1 thought on “The Music In My Blood: Carrying the legacy forward”

  1. पारंपरिक संगीत पर आधारित नाटक करना अपने आप में बहुत बड़ी उपलब्धि है। 40 वर्षों का रंग जगत से जुड़ाव रहा है-ऐसा प्रयास किसी रंग निर्देशक ने किया। जिन रंग निर्देशकों ने नये प्रयोग कर अपने को स्थापित किया उन्हीं में नया नाम सोनाली हर्डीकर का नज़र आ रहा ।
    नाटक नहीं देखा पर रंग प्रेमियों की प्रतिक्रियाएं सब बयान कर देती हैं। बधाई हो 🤗


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